Superior Mayor Discusses Kestrel Plant
According to Mayor Jim Paine, Kestrel Owes the City $2.2 Million from a 2012 Loan
SUPERIOR, Wis. – Mayor Jim Paine says Kestrel owes the city of Superior $2.2 million from a loan they were given in 2012.
Since Kestrel’s forbearance agreement expired at the end of this August, they haven’t made a payment on the loan.
Kestrel was expected to break ground by the Superior airport in 2013 for an aircraft manufacturing plant. The plant was expected to bring more than 650 jobs to Superior.
Mayor Paine, then on the Douglas County board, thought it was very likely the Kestrel plant would become a reality.
“The impression at the time was it was such an incredible opportunity that it merited taking some risk, even some substantial risk,” said Paine. “It’s worth remembering we had a nearly eight percent unemployment rate in Douglas County at the time. This could have cut that in half potentially. This is the kind of manufacturing and industrial economic development that you don’t see happening in American cities in the twenty-first century. It was the kind of thing that could stabilize this community maybe for generations.”
Now, several years later, the plant hasn’t been built and the State of Wisconsin is taking legal action against Kestrel to recover about $4 million in loans.
If Kestrel’s October 15th payment deadline isn’t met, the Superior City Council will decide if they will also take legal action to recover more than $2 million from Kestrel.
“It will be vital that we take lessons from this, that we minimize our exposure to large financial risks because, right now, if the city of Superior gets saddled with this debt, and it’s seeming likely that could be true, we’re going to be paying it down for a long time,” said Mayor Paine.
On Thursday, the CEO of Kestrel’s parent company, One Aviation, told Fox 21 that broken promises by the State of Wisconsin are the reason the plant hasn’t been built and why his company hasn’t paid off some of their debt.